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Story Element #3: Setting

The third story element of fiction we will be discussing in this guide is a bit of an unsung hero if you ask me, and it’s the setting. Read our Guide on Setting Here.

What is the definition of “Setting” as an Element of Fiction?

what is the definition of setting? The setting is the physical location in which your story takes place, but it goes beyond that. It is also the societal and cultural norms of the world. The setting will influence which plot points make sense within the world.  If you are writing a prehistoric tale about the neanderthal private investigator, then having part of the plot happen in a crime lab doesn’t make sense as the setting doesn’t make sense with the scientific understanding of that time.

Ok so that was a corny example, but hopefully, you get the point.

The main elements of the setting are:

  • Time
  • Place
  • The social environment in which the events occur

Why is the “Setting” element important?

The setting is very important to your story as it can really enhance your overall novel if done right.  It will depend on the type of story you are writing, but sometimes the setting can come front and center to your overall story. It can almost become a character on to itself, minus the feelings of course.

Take the time to think about your plot points and how you can make slight tweaks on the setting, how that might elevate the impact of what’s happening to your character that much more.

Some stories will briefly use setting as it isn’t central to what’s going on in your story. Meaning the story simply needs a place to occur. But in some stories maximizing the setting will mean the difference between a great novel and the mundane.

What can a writer accomplish by mastering the use of Setting?

I like to think of setting as the third dimension of your story. If it’s done correctly it will really make your characters and plot lines stand out.

If you have a story that can benefit from building mood and emotion through setting, then it is definitely worth taking the time to carefully craft a setting that will help you deliver on your overall vision.

But I found a great little video that really helps accentuate the importance of Setting in a fun way, so I decided to attach it below.

Here is a great fun video from the Flocabulary Youtube Channel. Great job by them presenting this topic in an informative and catchy way. It’s only about 3 minutes long but definitely worth watching.  Hope you enjoy it.

Next Story Element: Point of View